Posted 25.08.2012 11:55:34 UTC
Updated 25.08.2012 11:55:34 UTC
Balls of fire rose over the Amuay refinery, one of the largest in the world, in video posted on the Internet by people who were nearby at the time.
Falcon state Gov. Stella Lugo gave the initial death toll on state television, saying at least 48 people were injured.
"The areas that had to be evacuated were evacuated," Lugo said, according to the state-run Venezuelan News Agency. "The situation is controlled. Of course they're still a fire rising very high, but ... the specialists tell me there is no risk of another explosion."
Firefighters and National Guard troops were securing the area at the refinery on the Paraguana Peninsula in western Venezuela, Lugo said.
The blast occurred after 1 a.m. when a gas leak created a cloud that ignited, Oil Minister Rafael Ramirez said. Some nearby houses were damaged by the blast, he said.